The Homosexual Emancipation Movement in Germany by James D. Steakley (Short Review)

Covering a seldom spoken of aspect of Gay Liberation, James D. Steakley tackles the 19th century’s first protracted, organized gay and lesbian equal rights movement. Germany at the beginning of a new era had many contradictions, which, as Steakley says, caused large division among the German populace which would only be resolved if a large leap forward or backward was made (119). History shows that Germany took the reactionary path and opted for genocide. Even so, such barbarism did not stop the tide of progress: after the fall of Fascism the movement remerged. Continuing the tradition set forth by Dr. Hirschfeld, the demand for equal representation glided forward; visibility, anti-discrimination clauses and more. Yet Steakley’s efforts here in this short book are to trace the origins of this movement. He does so with gusto and so records the faults and divisions and efforts within the early German emancipation movement. Politics, how to counter the conservative lies, why fighting against paragraph 175 was so crucial to anti-Prussian agitation, and the difficulties of organizing the homosexual population are all recounted in curt but descriptive detail. Obviously since this is just an introduction to the subject you will not have an in-depth knowledge when finished but it should provide a nice crash-course to a vital piece of human liberation.

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